Maria José Arana

Mysticism is a feminine word in Spanish as well as in German. It refers to what is inward, emotions, the anima. Mysticism is dynamic; it describes a way of love. Mysticism is also dialectical and means progress and rest, ecstasy and concentration, darkness and bright light, all at the same time.

Mystical spirituality is not unworldly but a certain way of looking at the world: to feel and to bring the power of love to act in it. Such a world-mysticism has its social component, it is a force, which links to and aspires upwardly.

The heart is the place where this mystical secret is guarded. Prov. 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart. It is where your life comes from.” (NIRV)

The heart’s work is about concern for the suffering of this world and working to vanquish that suffering, committing oneself to justice, working towards a change of human relationships in order to improve our world. Mysticism and the transformation of the world are interrelated, merging into one another.

“Think about how you are” was the (former) common German translation of Haggai 1,5[1]. The Spanish and the original Hebrew Bible reads: “Work with your heart on your ways” to your life. This involves a re-orientation of our relations. We are all interconnected and need to be aware of this. (1 Cor. 12) This kind of spirituality is developed by the anima, the feminine, in all its breadth and in both sexes. Improved relations bring joy and are a healing power that flows out from the heart of God.

This human responsibility engenders the ecumenical dimension of mysticism. The object of the heart’s work is to coax it outward.

At the World Council of Churches General Assemblies, it was found that many women are involved in this type of work. The result is an interdenominational feminist theology with a vision that goes far beyond each woman’s own religion, culture and respective continent. Thus we know God in all nations. But feminist theology as a liberation theology concerns not only women all over the world; it also affects men.


We must find common ways to live out our faith in today’s world. This requires a mystical dimension, a work of the heart that is guided by wisdom and love. Today, new perspectives are opening. Guest from Cameroon with Grace Eneme in Basel, (c) Mangold Barbara

This text was read by Irmgard Frank, President of the Women’s Commission of Mission 21, at the Women’s Meeting, June 10, 2014 to which the Women and Gender Board and the Women’s Commission invited all women delegates.

The source of this text is the article by Maria José Arana, RSCJ, “La Mística y el Trabajo del Corazón para Revitalizar el Mundo” in the book, “Netze der Versöhnung knüpfen”, zum 80. Geburtstag von Ruth Epting, hrsg. von Elisabeth C. Miescher und Maria José Arana, RSCJ, Basileia Verlag 1999, Basel, Switzerland. Translated from Spanish to German and abbreviated by Roswitha Ebner-Golder.

[1] “Think carefully about how you are living” (NIRV), “Think about what is happening” (Easy to Read Version), “Consider your ways” (King James), or “Give careful thought to your ways.” (NIV)